Wednesday, September 29, 2010

One second at a time...

So much happens and time goes by in a much is going unrecorded which I am not happy about.  I do want to write more often for my sake and for my few good friends who care to read and write to me as well.
In a gist:

KB turned five in August and started kindergarten.  He seems to be enjoying his new school.  For a child who cried for a whole month when he started preschool at age three, it is quite some emotional growth to be able to drop him off in a new classroom for five hours, wave good bye and leave right on the first day.  Knock on wood.

KG started preschool.  As I expected it was quite the breeze.  We took her to her new school - a lovely warm atmosphere with tons of play and pretty much play, song and dance being the main theme there.  The teacher had set out small tubs of paint and some paper cut out to paint on.  KG sat down to paint and picked her favorite pink color.  After a few minutes of hanging out there and taking photos I said bye to KG.  She casually said "bye mamma" and continued painting.  She did hold my hand a little longer the second week when the novelty wore out but when I told her I would come later to pick her up, she just went off to play outside.

On Sep 4 morning, KB and KG were playing in the house chasing each other.  One moment we were all dancing to a music CD.  I went into the study room for a minute.  I suddenly heard a thud and crying - I ran out to look - KB was holding his left eye and blood was running down.  In panic I got him to remove his hand to check if his eye was hurt.  Thank God for big mercies the cut was in his left eyebrow.  One minute we were planning our outing for that weekend and the next minute we were driving to ER.  They had to give him a shot to numb him and then put in four stitches to seal the cut.  Five days later, I had to take him to his regular pediatrician to have the sutures removed.  It does show but not too badly.  Hopefully with time, it will be barely visible.

KB has a birth mark, a good size mole on his lower abdomen area.  I had written about the tension I went through in this post.  It has resurfaced again.  I took KB to his five year physical when I casually mentioned to the pediatrician to take a look at the mole just to be sure it is OK.  He asked me if it looked different.  I was taken aback - I do keep an eye on it - it didn't look any different to me - but how can I be so sure - I had no measurements.  Our pede decided to refer him to a dermatologist to just make sure it was OK.  I took KB last afternoon to a dermatologist.  The derm takes one quick look and asks me if it looks different.  Again I told him it did not "look" different to me but how could I be sure at a clinical level.  The derm then casually told me that it looks "abnormal" and that KB needs to go through a procedure where they would give a shot to numb the area and then scrape out the moles (one bigger, the other smaller one).  I told him I wanted to think about it and talk to my husband and then make a decision.  KB grilled me on the drive back with questions like "Are they going to remove all my birth marks?",  "How do they know this one might hurt when I become big?",  "Why do they want to remove it if they don't know for sure?", "Did you have your birthmarks removed when you were a kid?"....It was hard to answer all his questions in the mood I was in.  But the matter still remains to be dealt with.  I have asked our pede for a referral to see another derm for a second opinion.  If I pause too long to think about it and let my mind go wild, I feel like there is a stone in my heart.  I am just praying it will be something KB and I can stomach and get through and get back home after a procedure to remove it if it comes to that.

I was talking to my sister the other day when she said to me, "we need to just take it one day at a time".  I was joking with her saying I only take it one second at a time.  Just can't predict what will happen the next moment.  These days my feeling is - if I can deal with it and come back home in a couple of hours - that is fine even if I have to go through some level of tension (like the day KB went to ER), anger and disappointment.  My prayer more and more is for the health and safety of the kids and of people in general.  Rest can be managed.  If you are reading this, that is my top wish for you and your family.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Shantha swaroopini - 3

I was initially thinking I would stop at part 2. But there are a couple of things about her that I forgot to mention that I am sure I would delight in remembering when she is much older. So I had to continue on with this thread.

KG has a way of dealing with anger - both hers and mine. It amazes me when I witness "inherent nature" right in front of me in my two kids. There is only so much nurture can do in shaping a person's personality. When we were in NJ visiting my cousin, KG was constantly climbing up and down the stairs and refusing to come down to what ever it was I was calling her for. When I yelled at her, she just screamed "I want fruit snack and joooooos". A totally irrelevant comment said in a complaining tone. She doesn't know how to respond to my adult way of yelling with a string of words said rapidly, but she deflects it with randomness. She just throws you off and makes you ask "What?". She does this so often - just say something - sometimes funny also - that you just loose that heat of your temper a little bit! KB on the other hand would take my words seriously and respond like a lawyer with an argument addressing exactly what I said in yelling at him!

How can I post about KG's personality without mentioning how she is the biggest fan and biggest "pest" her brother has?! Right from learning her ABC's to learning about dinosaurs and to "inventing" dinosaurs she has learned every bit on her own from just being around her brother. We read to her but I never had to sit with her and show her her letters or numbers. When/how she learned it without going to school I don't know but I think it is totally thanks to her brother. What ever he does, she has to do. If he drops a pencil on the floor by chance, she has to also drop something - if she doesn't have anything in her hand, she will pick one up and drop it just like her brother! If he watches "Scooby-doo" she has to also watch it. She used to watch "Star wars" with him and know all the main characters at age 2.5 when KB was totally crazy about it. She used to pretend to defeat imaginary bad guys with her light saber just like her brother KB. I had to buy her a light saber because KB insisted I do so! And now that he has moved on from "Star wars" to "Scooby-doo", she too has moved on and sings the Scooby-doo title song one that she learned on her own. She sings a big song on "Triceratops" dinosaur from just listening to a "Dinosaurs" music CD in the car because KB catches on to the words of every song and sings along. If she messes up some words, of course, her perfectionist brother argues with her saying, "KG, you know to say three, it is three sharp horns upon it's nose, NOT "gree""! We love her baby talk and if she sings the words wrong, we make no attempt to correct her. But KB doesn't allow that. He was a born thatha, always pronouncing the words correctly! So he doesn't let his sister get away with it if he thinks she is capable of saying some word the correct way. Which by the way KG pronounces as "Kerect" and so both me and husband always say "Oh, yeah, KG, you said it the "kerect" way!".

KG also gets on KB's nerves by breaking toys, tearing pages in books, ripping things apart etc! His "lift the flap" books from when he was a baby - most of the flaps would be totally intact and in good condition. Unless a few tore from over use. But KG on the other hand was not interested in what was under the flap. She was interested in the flap itself. She would try to rip it first. And for a long time, she did not want us to read any books with long sentences. KB used to read 20 page books back to us verbatim at age 2.5. No kidding. KG on the other hand at 2.5 was still absolutely not interested in long story books. Just wanted to look at the pictures and she wanted us to tell her the story in Tamil/English mixed in colloquial style. All of a sudden in the last few months she loves to listen to story books. Thanks to KB she even listens to "Dinosaur encylopedia" and "Magic tree house" books and asks us to tell her Jack & Annie stories. Like her brother she even invents dinosaurs. Though she can't tell us details of its anatomy and diet and location where the fossils were discovered etc like KB does, she still does a pretty good job of making it up. She told me yesterday, "Mamma, I invented a dinosaur. It is called Loxtasaurus. It is like a snake and it is taller than a dinosaur. It eats spiders"!

People including my husband sometimes tease me that I do have a little extra soft spot for KB. It is so hard to explain...I just love them both the same but in different ways. KB, I feel protective of even now because I feel like he needs me more and is more sensitive. KG, I am so grateful to, because she needs me less emotionally but I give my heart to her because she has helped me so much already by just being her. KB had to deal with our stumbling and learning as first time parents. KG benefited from it. With KB we had no yard sticks to compare him to for learning milestones. KG - we compared her to KB but with the ease that comes with second time around, not worrying but just noting the differences. KG enriches both KB's and our lives with her easy temperament. KB makes us feel love, joy, anxiety - all emotions - as intensely as he does. KB's intensity and perfectionist attitude is complemented by KG's carefree and daring attitude. KB is bold and confident when it comes to talking to new people. KG would be shy and take longer to warm up. KB (at age three) made it so difficult for me to leave him in a new preschool. KG is about to start preschool in September. Yet it is KB who I worry about because he is going to start Kindergarten in a Montessori environment which is new to him. They are both so different. But when B asked him yesterday, "KB, are you excited that you will have five days holidays after your summer program ends and your kindergarten starts? You will be home with Mamma?". He said immediately, "Daddy, I am excited because I can play with KG!". Even today if someone asks him what his favorite thing to do is, he would say "Playing with my sister"! On Raksha Bandan day, I pray to the powers that be, "Please, let them be as bonded as they are today and be there for each other always!" and "God hope their spouses get along really well"!

I was going to post photos - instead decided to make it per interest. So if you would like to see the photos I was going to post pertaining to this post, please mail me at wondernoon@gmail and I will send you the link. I still havent' put it up, but will do if any one mails me!

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Shantha swaroopini - 2

KG was three weeks old or so when a friend (a friend's wife who became my good friend also) came to spend a week with us to help me and my mom since my mom is old and also my father had passed away just five months before KG was born. She would sing "Thaaramaiya Ragukula Ramachandiraraa" and other lovely Telugu songs KG would calmly listen...and when she fell asleep she would be left in the little cradle and she would sleep so peacefully. I am now thinking of the first day when she came from the hospital and we let her sleep in that little cradle while I attended to KB who refused to eat unless I fed him myself. He just ignored the new little baby in the cradle for a few hours. And to think of how soon they became bonded - him playing with her tender soft feet while I nursed her, being so gracious and generous in letting me spend time with her...and how she would be entertained by him and became so used to his presence around her at most times. And how far the two of them have come...playing air hockey together like two big kids, while I was cooking this morning. Just twenty two months apart, they are now like buddies. They are so different in personality but are so close to each other and just dote on each other.

We often call KG, Danica, because of her obsession with cars. KG has always loved playing with cars. Not so much the movie "Cars" but actually playing with little cars. She still does it. Every morning after I drop KB at school and come back home with her, she goes to her train, rides it to the family room (which is their play room) and opens up the trunk and pulls out some 10 hot wheels cars and lines them up to make a parking lot or puts them in some fashion that it looks like a traffic jam. She still rides on her train from room to room and does tricks with it like lifting the front of it while sitting on it. She has to park her train in some parking spot in some corner of the house when I call her for something. If I tell her to come have her lunch, she often dodges me saying, "aaahhm...after I play cars for a littu bit"!

KG has a good sense of humor - she makes funny faces or says silly things that make you laugh. For example, we had a visitor who's daughter's name was Maya. That night KG told me, "Mamma, Maya kutti ponnu is a Maiasaura" and started giggling away. While she can do that, she is so different from KB in how she shows her excitement. She will only give a muted smile with her cheeks puffing up when she gets something she likes or finds something exciting. KB on the hand would show more raw emotion be it happiness or sadness.

KG has this playful tradition of "giving me cheek". If I grind my teeth and come rushing to her and hug her and pinch her cheeks, she would say "give me my cheek back" loudly. And if I make a sad face, she will say, "Mamma, I will give you 100 cheeks, not just one OK" and pretend like she is plucking some cheek from her own and stick it on to mine a bunch of times and then tell me "I gave you 100 cheeks mamma".

It would be quite strange if she actually became a CEO some day because of the number of times people have said that about her. Funny because she is actually quite shy by nature and takes longer to warm up than KB. But she is so strong willed and decisive in the way she conducts herself that different people have said "wow, she is a CEO"!. Once we were at the swimming pool when I playing with my friend's son. I playfully asked KG, "shall I give two odhais (spanking) for A?". She immediately gave this very emphatic and clear "Yes". I then asked KG "Why KG, why do you want me to give him odhai?". Her immediate answer was "Because I said yes"! Yes, Maam!

She still has a little bit of baby language left in her. And we try hard to preserve it. For example she somehow started saying "Cindrellella" instead of "Cindrella" . So both me and my husband always only refer to that character as "Cindrellella". Poor baby - she might get teased in preschool for saying it the wrong way.

She is a tigress when it comes to defending her brother. Let some kid come and grab "Anna's" toy...if she hears a semblance of a protest from her brother, she will join in and go and tell that kid, "It is Anna's" and make sure to retrieve it for her brother. For all her ability to take care of herself she seems so giving and generous that it sometimes worries me that she can be taken for a ride by other kids. When we were waiting on the sides at KB's swim class, KG had four cookies in her little snack bag and she had just started eating the first one. A friend's daughter came that side and just gently mentioned that she too wanted those cookies. KG immediately just gave all the three remaining cookies to her in an instant. I didn't even have to ask her to share it with her friend. She sometimes fights with her brother refusing to share her favorite train or cars but even so if he really looks sad, she would immediately give it to him.

More coming...

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Shantha Swaroopini

The title doesn't sound much like the post I have been promising to write - the one about KG. Even to the people who know her casually, the title may not seem apt for a post about KG. But from the people who know her well, it will elicit an approving nod. I am not sure if I somehow imagined her to be that way and hence continue to perceive her as someone with an inner calm and strength ("shantham") ignoring the fact we very often call her "Rakshashi" since she can be that too pretty often. What ever it is, I feel that she has that inner calm and an ability to just be content with herself. I wish I could be like her sometimes. Not in the way that kids in general are able to move on but in the way that you know will be a part of her personality even as an adult.

When I was pregnant with my first child, I assumed it would be a girl. But when the nurse casually mentioned that it was a boy, I was kind of taken aback. What would I do with a boy...I only imagined myself with a girl baby. But once KB arrived, I got used to having a boy. The second time around, I actually didn't mind if it were to be another boy. This time around, I was so happy with KB that I was OK with another boy. When I found out it was going to be a girl, I took it in stride. I was happy I was going to have one of each but it was not like I was over joyed that it was going to be a girl. I would have been OK either way. But the more KG grows up, the more I feel so grateful to have a girl. And of course as her mother, I feel especially blessed to have a girl like KG. And I pray often that my perception of her is right and that she really is able to hold her own and have that quiet strength about her even as an adult.

Being the second child, KG just grew up in a blink. She turned three in June and I feel like it was only yesterday she was born. The first blessing after having struggled so much with KB's sleep issues was that she would sleep on her own from about 2m of age (until about 18m after which she needed us to pat her to sleep but would still not give us a hard time about it). Having gone through sleep issues with KB, I still feel so thankful to KG for making life easier by just being a good sleeper. The other big blessing is that she is not a picky eater like KB. But for her I would have constantly suffered this guilt that it must be me why KB is such a picky eater and is so difficult over all with eating. It felt like the Gods took pity on me when we gave her the first spoon of solids and she just opened her mouth wide (unlike KB's bird mouth habit) and ate her food so quickly. She is always open to trying new foods and when she says "enough" it is really because she is full and doesn't need more food. She was not much into milk- quite the opposite of her brother - but of late she has become more accepting of it. Because of the eating troubles I continue to have with KB, I am so grateful and appreciative of the fact that KG doesn't give me a hard time when it comes to eating. Every single meal, I feel thankful for it.

To be continued....

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Cycle of life

We had gone to two opposite coasts in the last two weeks to attend two different family functions - my nephew's thread ceremony and my older nephew's wedding. It was absolutely wonderful meeting old friends and also meeting all my siblings at both events.

I couldn't help but feel at times like there was a part of me that sort of sat back and observed all that was happening even if I was a participant myself. The introvert in me wanting to just sit back and take it all in. I looked at my nephew as he recited the Gayatri Mantra during the ceremony and I couldn't believe there was a time when I was a student when I used to play ball with him or chase after him and hug him. And there were other kids who were just eight years old when I last saw them ten years back and suddenly they were tall, voice changed and looking so grown up and in college.

At my other nephew's wedding, I couldn't help but wish my father had been present. He would have relished the novelty of it all - the first person in the immediate family to marry a non-Indian, a very creatively done small wedding unlike the big galas we were used to in our family, no priest what so ever - just an old man, a family friend who officiated the wedding...and my father would have been so proud of my handsome nephew in his wedding suit...we all missed him yet no one really said anything to each other - we all just talked and laughed and teased...every now and then I couldn't help but pause and think about how the cycle of life just keeps on moving, stops for none. Every birth feels like a miracle to me each time to see a newborn baby...and yet when I distance myself and look at the relentless cycle of life - a child is born, he grows up and goes to college, gets a job, gets married, has seems a tad ordinary. The trivialities that form knots in our heads and keep us up at night seem so...futile, irrelevant in the big picture of life. Petty remarks, hurt feelings over small things all seem so pointless in this big picture. And yet it is these atomic details that make the experience of living so real and you just cannot skip over these to the end. When you step back, both the miraculous and mundane seem so beautifully intertwined.

Now for the mundane reality - I am falling asleep on my laptop - I need to stop and go to bed now!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The SAHM debate

I am off for a couple of weeks visiting family. I have not been posting regularly - but felt like I should say bye to the people who might visit my blog till the end of the month - just to let them know I will be gone for a bit.

I thought my next post will be about KG. That draft is still in my head. Her third birthday is on June 17 - hope to post at least by then - exclusively about KG!

MM's latest post on SAHM is flooding her comments box. Understandably so. When the celebrity blogger (meant positively) writes on the hot topic, people want to pour their heart out in response. And I feel like writing a whole long post in response! No time though. Pretty late in the night as it is.

Different strokes for different folks - that's how I have come to view it now. And to some extent it boils down to what you get used to, what you need to do to raise your children. Some women don't have a choice, they have to work to earn money. Others are blessed with the choice. Neither choice is easy. Being a SAHM mom takes a little more conviction since you are subtly or blatantly looked down often by other working women and even by other SAHMs who have a low opinion of themselves. And if you happen to have educated yourself beyond UG level, forget it, they look down on you like you should be digging a grave for yourself. Like who would educate themselves so much only to "sit" at home! I have so much as heard outbursts like, "What?! WHY would you stay at home?!!" And then politely (not) follow it up with, "well, hats off to you, I couldn't do that".

When I toured preschools for KB when he was 2.5, I saw some little children in the full day day care and I just could not, absolutely could not get myself to do it. A nanny may have been OK provided I had some one at home to just oversee the nanny. Either way I did not want my baby to be spending whole days in a day care or away from me. Part time options would be OK but those jobs are scarce to nil and in my field that would require being in the lab, it is very rare. The money simply didn't make it worthwhile to send two kids to day care or have a nanny at home. I have zero family support here for contingencies and I just did not want to deal with the stress of it all. I felt like some of those children looked so worn out having to wander around in that same room with a whole bunch of other kids and only so much attention paid to them. My friend who has to work to be able to keep up their mortgage etc tells me such stories of how the child looks/feels at the end of the day. My father-in-law lives with us and I have to cook a full meal in the morning and go to drop off and pick up KB - so the mornings are pretty busy. So I do end up not being able to pay attention to KG at those times. But I keep talking to her while cooking and if she needs me to sit with her for a few minutes while she eats her grapes or comes to feed me her toy food, I am right there. Yes, I am not able to give her my 100% at all times even as a SAHM, but I am there for her when she needs me. And she can hang loose and be a child and not have to follow strict rules all the time. And if she is sleepy at 11.00 a.m. instead of at 2.00 p.m. on some days, she can sleep in a cozy bed with her favorite music playing in the room. I do feel upset and sad at times when I think of how my career didn't take off and may never really, but I don't see a better choice. I am glad I am able to do this and that my husband is able to support us in this choice. I want to be able to cherish these childhood years with them. The only real negative and very real one I see to this choice is what if...I shudder to even complete that sentence. In this economy it is a huge risk. I don't know how to get around that.

I see some working women who finally quit their jobs because the stress was too much. I only hear them say how much their children love the fact that they are not constantly rushed or that they don't have to spend the whole day away from home. And yet I find some of them so defensive of their SAHM status.

Women do it to each other. The viciousness with which they attack each other is so shocking that you wonder if they ever got past second grade. I just don't see why both sides can't just try and understand why certain choices were made and stop themselves from spewing out nonsensical comments and hurt each other. If someone is ambitious and really cannot see themselves not working, so be it. If someone wants to take a few years off and only have a low key career and be there more for the children, so be it too. It is only that woman and her family who have to deal with those choices. What is it to any one else?! You can have your own strong opinions on the topic but why attack an individual who is not asking anything of you in the process? One woman asked me with this self righteous tone, "Soow, do you plan to start looking for jobs?". I wonder how she would have felt if in that same tone I had asked, "Soo, do you have any plan of quitting your job?".

I do see merit to working - but sometimes the work/life balance just doesn't happen and you have to find ways to balance it. In the process, you do loose the confidence that took years to gain during the process of educating yourself. And you do get older and loose out in that sense too. But there is always plenty of need for volunteers in so many fields and eventually one of those will lead to some kind of job that might both be meaningful and give room for raising kids. You make the choices that will keep the family intact and allow you to keep your sanity. And in the end you do hope you have done the best for your children and your family.

OK blog pals, will see you in two weeks! Absolutely no time to even read what I have written here let alone edit it. Forgive the typos and ramblings! Wish us a safe trip!

I just read about the killings of KG children in China. My heart just bleeds for the children and their parents. What is the world coming to? We watch "Criminal minds" and think this can happen only in TV shows. But the news each day is so gut wrenching that if you stop to think about it, it is hard to even get out of the house. Anyway - sadly, I am thinking now about how I have to pack for my trip tomorrow! Life goes on.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

When imagination runs wild!

I keep telling myself that a)I should post more often no matter who reads it, at least I can read it at some point. b) I should write about KG more often.

I have done neither. And sorry, this is yet another post about KB (Kutti boy no more - he turned 4.5 this month and he was super excited about it). Shoot me!

OK, I promise, once I am done with this post (in two parts), the next one will be about KG. A Mama-Mia style post about KG.

Back to my KB post. I can't remember what the context was, but KB once argued with me "How come that is possible?" and I said "Well, it's OK, anything is possible in your imagination". That seems to have been ingrained in his mind. That and of course the fact that he is 4.5 now and is full of imaginary scenarios and full of questions.

If I read a book about the human body, he has to "invent" a bone or a muscle. If I read a book on dinosaurs, he has to "invent" a dinosaur. Stories - of course - he loves stories so much - he "invents" so many of them. The other day, finally I decided to pick up any random thing I found and just write a few of the things he has invented! He sat down like a guru in his little "Elmo couch" while I picked up my 2009 diary and sat on the floor while he listed his "inventions" for me to jot down! These are exact descriptions as he gave it to me that I wrote down in my diary. It was quite the funny scene. Here are some of them for your/my amusement!

Did you know

1) Igla - is the name of the "Thumb bone"? And "Obstrator" is the bone that helps you move your arm?

2) Nascapulae - is a muscle in the stomach that drains bath water when it goes down the throat (while daddy puts soap water on KB's face).

3) Inzotek - a machine invented by KB (picture drawing will be posted later) - that can do lots of things. It can make a dinosaur alive if you put dinosaur DNA into it.

4) Chanberian Cheetah - It is a new kind of Cheetah. It roars loudly. It is faster than the well known Cheetahs and it lives in South America. It could eat people by running very fast behind them.

5) Salonthologist - is a person who studies these Chanberian Cheetahs.

6) Saber toothed snake - It has little black stripes and it is half orange and half yellow and it coule stick out its tongue very long. It has fangs that is the shape of a saber tooth.

7) Dezmiradasaurus - It lived in the Triassic period because it was one of the oldest dinosaurs ever. It was 40 tons in weight and 80 feet tall. It is so big, it can even butt all other dinosaurs. It has studs, spikes and horns and a club in its tail. it has very strong bones and then it had knife teeth.

8) Gerbivore - the Dezmiradasaurus was a gerbivore - it eats everything - water, leaves, meat, bushes, sand, rocks, mud.

9) Hupplegut - this is my most favorite one of his "inventions". Hupplegut is a kind of fruit that has vitamin A, B,C, D, E, and K and it has lots of all these vitamins. It is crunchy like a carrot. It is green on the outside and white on the inside.

I will write a separate post on his story and super hero inventions!